Anytime I read a V.C. Andrews series with just two books I prefer to review them together. These books are really quick reads that honestly could be just one book but for some reason Andrew Neiderman, the ghost writer, always splits the story. I own almost all of Andrews’ books. In the few reviews I’ve did about them I’ve said and I’ll say again, these are not literary masterpieces. These books are the equivalent to a soap opera/Lifetime movie. My newest and most recent reads from Andrews/Neiderman is The Heavenstone Secrets and Secret Whispers. I’ll write a synopsis for both and then give my opinion on the two books together. As a warning, these books deal with rape and murder.
Synopsis for The Heavenstone Secrets
The Heavenstone sisters, Cassie and Semantha, live with their parents, Teddy and Arianna, in a large old mansion in Kentucky. Their family is one of the richest in the state due to the many department stores that they own. Cassie is two years older than Semantha but acts ten years older. She’s always telling Semantha what to do and trying to control her. Semantha loves her sister but can’t help but be frightened by her. Cassie is always in control and the only person she truly tries to please is her father. When the girls’ mother becomes pregnant and suffers a miscarriage their idyllic life is shattered. Cassie treats her mother with “tough love” and tells her she needs to get over her depression because it is too hard on Teddy, who is truly the only one that Cassie cares about. Arianna, however, doesn’t recover and ends up killing herself, or so it seems. The family sinks into an even deeper depression, especially Teddy. Cassie is determined to make her father happy again and she believes if he had a son he would be happy. Cassie finds a handsome, young man and convinces him to rape Semantha after they drug her. Semantha can’t remember the rape because she was drugged but she soon realizes she’s pregnant. When she confronts Cassie, Cassie denies anything happened and convinces Semantha the pregnancy is just in her mind. Eventually though, the truth can’t be ignored and Cassie tells Semantha what she did and convinces her to have the baby to raise for their father. Semantha unwillingly goes along with the plan even though it has cost her her relationship with her father because he doesn’t know the truth and just thinks she was promiscuous. The tension in the house keeps rising until Semantha and Cassie get into a fight because Semantha learns that Cassie murdered their mother. The two are fighting at the top of the stairs, Cassie trips and then falls to her death. Shortly after that Semantha gives birth to a girl that they decide to put up for adoption. That’s where this books ends and Secret Whispers begins…
Synopsis of Secret Whispers
After giving up her daughter for adoption Semantha and her father think the best place for her would be a boarding school far away. Semantha goes but doesn’t make many friends while there because she just can’t relate to them and has too many secrets. She does meet a young man, Ethan, and the two have an immediate attraction. They date for awhile but when he wants to have sex with her she has flashbacks to her rape and can’t do it. He’s disappointed but claims he understands. However, he misses her graduation and she doesn’t hear from him again until she moves back home. Things at home aren’t going well either. Her father has a fiancee and the two are busy planning their wedding. Semantha tries to deal with all of these changes but she keeps seeing and hearing her dead sister, Cassie. She doesn’t tell anyone about it because she doesn’t want them to think she’s crazy. Meanwhile, Ethan decides to come visit her and Semantha is overjoyed. He stays there for quite awhile and the two fall in love. Ethan has a business degree and Teddy, Semantha’s father, decides to give him a job in the company. Even though the relationship has moved very fast Ethan and Semantha get married. Their marriage isn’t the best because of Semantha’s deteriorating mental health but Ethan still wants to make it work and have a family. However, soon tragedy strikes and Teddy and his new wife are in a car wreck. She dies but Teddy is okay. Teddy is heartbroken but shortly after Semantha finds out she’s pregnant with a boy and the whole family is overjoyed.
The Heavenstone Secrets was pretty good. I actually did enjoy the story more than any of the newer books I’ve read by Neiderman but of course it had all of the V.C. Andrews tropes such as:
- Cassie was wise beyond her years; they made her sound like an 80 year old and she was only 17.
- Cassie was in love with her father.
- Teenage pregnancy.
- Super wealthy family.
- An innocent, naive, young girl that ends up being taken advantage of.
- Secret pregnancy.
- Hysterical females.
Secret Whispers just didn’t do it for me, however. Here’s all my reasons why:
- I get that Semantha was having a mental breakdown and that’s why she could “see” and would talk to Cassie but this book did it way too much. Literally every other page was Semantha having a conversation with her dead sister and it just got old.
- Ethan, Semantha’s husband, is one of the shadiest and sneakiest characters but that’s not even addressed. We find out Semantha’s step mother had something to do with him even coming to visit but that’s never clarified. Basically, the best I could tell he was just in it for the money and that’s also why he wanted to have kids so badly.
- Teddy gets over his new wife’s death in like three seconds.
If you like V.C.Andrews books I do recommend these because they are not the worst that I’ve read. I just desperately wish that Neiderman would do something different. Why can’t there be a strong, female main character? How about we get real crazy and have a male main character? I just would love to see these books branch out and start breaking away from the same, tired formula. If you’re a fan of Andrews/Neiderman let me know what you think! Thanks for reading and have a great day!